Friday, August 31, 2018

Ben Boogz of 2 Hungry Bros. & Doc Reevez Talk Second Collaborative Full-length Thousand Islands of DEATH (The Witzard Interview)

Ben Boogz, along with his production partner Deep, has been a long-time collaborator and affiliate of Stones Throw emcee, Homeboy Sandman. I can remember, long before Sandman ever signed with Stones Throw, hearing 2 Hungry Bros.-produced "The Carpenter" from his 2010 album, The Good Sun; I was still getting my feet wet with Hip-Hop and deciding what I did and didn't like, but I can distinctly remember having my mind blown by Homeboy Sandman's seemingly effortless rhymes weaving through 2HB's Jazzy, horn-accented beat. Fast-forward a few years to 2017: Ben Boogz of 2 Hungry Bros. produced "Pizza & Burgers" from Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman's third collaborative EP for Stones Throw/Rhymesayers, TRIPLE FAT LICE. Somehow, I was lucky enough to effectively link up with Ben Boogz and conduct an impromptu 16-question interview on "Pizza & Burgers," via Facebook Messenger AKA a FB DM Q&A.

Ben has since released a Valentine's Day-themed tape called Love Handles, as well as a collaborative tape with Deep from 2 Hungry Bros. Connections Series: The Reconnection for 77 Rise Recordings/Beat Tape Co-Op. Now, Ben Boogz has returned, once more, for Thousand Islands of DEATH with New Jersey emcee Doc Reevez. 2HB die-hards may recall Doc Reevez's name from his 2015 collaborative album with 2 Hungry Bros. Recipe for Disaster, released on Already Dead Tapes & Records. Thousand Islands of DEATH consists of a whopping 22 tracks and has been a few years in-the-making, so Ben and I saw it fit to do a comprehensive interview with he, myself, and Doc. Coincidentally, today is also, the proper street date for Thousand Islands of DEATH; so, cue up the album stream, purchase a limited edition tape, and scroll through The Witzard's comprehensive interview with Ben Boogz & Doc Reevez.

- Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Editor-In-Chief & Senior Writer

I. How did you two first meet and decide to start recording music together?

Ben Boogz: We met through our mutual friend, Jesus Himself (not at bible study.) Doc has a very different voice, kinda like Son Doobie. I thought that was different from the regular emcees I have worked with... So, I sent em a few tracks and that's how we started killing 'ish.

Doc Reevez: I first meet Ben through a mutual friend of ours: Jesus Himself. Ben had heard the album I did with Jesus and he said he liked it and he sent me a beat. I wrote to it and sent it back and pretty soon after that, I was getting a bunch of emails from Ben & Deep [2 Hungry Bros.] with beats to write to. The result of that was Recipe for Disaster.

II. How does this record, Thousand Islands of DEATH, differ from your previous collaboration, 2015's Recipe for Disaster with Ben's group, 2 Hungry Bros. aside from the obvious absence of 2HB producer Deep?

Ben Boogz: For Recipe [for Disaster], me and Deep challenged Doc more; on Thousand [Islands of DEATH], I gave direction, but I left a lot in Doc's control because he knew how we had worked before. Some of the beats are old and new. Also, some of them are from my instrumental projects and some are unreleased beats just for the project.

Doc Reevez: Thousand Islands of DEATH is different, I think, because it took longer to make. I was working on other projects at the same time and we weren't really planning it out to be an album, so I guess, it was more spontaneous.

III. How exactly was Thousand Islands of DEATH created and recorded? Were you two actively in the studio together or did Ben make the beats and Doc rapped on them and sent them back, etc.?

Ben Boogz: Nope, no studio because we have the power of The Internet at our hands. Everything is done in our own home "labs." Some of these jams were made back in 2016 and then, we picked back up in 2017. I remember hitting up Doc on Easter Sunday like, "yo, let's finish this!"

Doc Reevez: Recipe for Disaster was released three years ago and [we've] both been pretty busy, but Ben still managed to send me beats and I still managed to record tracks and send them back. One day, we were looking at how much music we had and decided it would make sense to put it out.

IV. How would you say, each of you have grown, both personally and musically, since your last full-length collaborative record, Recipe for Disaster?

Ben Boogz: My family has grown, me and my wife have a new son, who just turned one in July. So, life has been good, but busy. I'm loving it. I got a few extra greys. I dropped two solo instrumental albums. I also, did a tape with my bro, Deep that's on 77 Rise Recordings[/Beat Tape Co-Op] called Connections Series: The Reconnection. Go grab that, before it's gone! Shout-out Matt Bloom! The challenge is making time to create, while being busy with family and work.

Doc Reevez: I, personally, have seen a lot of growth since the last album... three years is a long time. I'm off probation. That's kinda big for me. Musically, I feel like I grow every day, so 365 days alone is huge... three years is over 1,000 days, so you know what it is.

V. It looks like 2 Hungry Bros. & Doc Reevez released two stand-alone tracks, "Degentrify" & "Sancocho Vibes;" now, how do those tracks relate to either Recipe for Disaster (2015) or Thousand Islands of DEATH?

Ben Boogz: Those tracks came after Recipe [for Disaster]. We loved working with Doc because he would bang out tracks fast. So, it was great making music. It's great, when you find a connection like that. Me and Doc just kept working on joints. Also, you forgot to mention "Spookings," which is on Thousand [Islands of DEATH]. That was also, a single released Halloween 2017. There was a project in-the-works, but nothing was finalized.

VI. Who designed the Thousand Islands of DEATH artwork, cassette packaging, and sticker pack? I'm really diggin' the artistic direction behind this project!

Ben Boogz: My bro, Monk, linked me with Tomer Mor (@tomerdraws.) I gave him this crazy idea I had. I wanted the art to look like the art on an 80's video game cover. He pretty much KILLED IT and he did the layout. I picked the cassette shell. Tomer also, did different stickers. So, I decided to do a sticker pack, which comes along with a purchase of each tape. These are all my ideas brought to life. You see, I'm huge into sneakers and the design. I will [probably] never get to design some kicks... but cassettes are something I can put my mind and hands on. So, I'm really happy seeing this come to life. It's a new lane for me. Who knows where it will lead?

Doc Reevez: The album art was done by @tomerdraws. He did a great job; I love the art! The tape looks official.

VII. How did you go about deciding to feature Thousand Islands of DEATH's only guest feature, from 2 Hungry Bros./Hunger Division affiliate, LiKWUiD, on album closer "Trippin?'"

Ben Boogz: We didn't plan on having any features, but Doc had reached out to LiKWUiD, which I thought would be pretty dope feature and she KILLED IT! Me and Doc featured acts on this album hahaha. We felt "Trippin'" is really great track to finish out the album with some crazy bars from L & Doc. The other thing people should know is "Trippin'" is NOT on the cassette; it's a Bonus, when you get the digital.

Doc Reevez: Ever since I was introduced to LiKWUiD, I've had the utmost respect for her and what she does. We had talked about doing a track together and I felt compelled to hit her up, when I heard that beat cuz' I knew she was good for it.

VIII. Once the album has been released on Friday, August 31st, what do you fellas have planned next for the album roll-out?

Ben Boogz: Lots! Maybe, some more merchandise from the album. We're also, trying to get a video done. We also, got a good amount of pre-orders from old and new fans. So, that's dope! Just expect more music from us both.

IX. Thousand Islands of DEATH includes a good amount of tracks for a "modern" Hip-Hop album (22!) How exactly did you go about which 11 tracks to features on both Sides A-B of the cassette release?

Ben Boogz: Some of the tracks are not as long as your normal Hip-Hop song. Also, Doc works pretty fast. We also, had a ton of tracks to work with; we also, love giving the fans more bangers for their bucks. It's not your modern day Hip-Hop album. What is that anyway? Rappers calling six tracks an "album?" Isn't that an EP? HAHAHAA! Our sh*t bangs! I hope people enjoy it as much as me and Doc do.

Doc Reevez: Whenever I make an album, I always make a mix with the goal being something I can listen to straight through. You'll never see me with an album that isn't laid out like a mixtape. I knew that these 22 tracks were going on it and my goal was to arrange them in such a way that it would keep a certain momentum. I had tried other [track] orders, but this one sounded good to me and Ben approved, so that's what we went with. It was, actually, one long mix that got chopped in half for the tape.

X. What are each of your personal favorite tracks on Thousand Islands of DEATH and why?

Doc Reevez: My favorite tracks are "Kung-Fu" and "The Light." "Kung-Fu" is dope cuz' the beat is different than your average Ben Boogz beat. I think, he had originally, made it for a Trap artist. "The Light," I think, is dope also, cuz' the beat has that 90's vibe.

Ben Boogz: I have a few that I love: "Save Us All" because it touches on topics of today. "Spookings" - I love that beat because it's not my normal style. Plus, I really like Doc's word-play. "Sauteed" is another favorite of mine. I really think the album is a dope piece of work. Doc mentioned "Kung-Fu;" the beat was not for a "Trap artist." It's from a batch of beats I made making fun of Trap. A lot of those beats are also, on LiKWUiD's album, Fay Grim.

XI. For those who may be new to both Ben Boogz/2 Hungry Bros. & Doc Reevez's catalogs, what selections might each of you recommend new fans check out first from each other's storied back catalogs?

Ben Boogz: Mos' def' go check out The Elimination Trilogy (The Danger.) That's the album that got me inspired to work with Doc. Actually, I was so inspired about it, we did a video for the song "Walk On," which is also, on limited edition 7-inch wax. Doc also, has another limited tape with Henry Quester called HOTFM. I believe, you can grab all of this music on his Bandcamp.

Doc Reevez: Definitely, check out Recipe for Disaster for more Doc Reevez & 2 Hungry Bros. You might wanna check The Elimination Trilogy, Part 1: The Danger to hear the album that inspired Ben to send me that first beat. If you like instrumentals, like I do, you should hear I Moreno by Ben Boogz - that's a dope tape!

XII. Following the release of your latest collaborative album, Thousand Islands of DEATH, what do both of you plan to release next, Ben Boogz & Doc Reevez?

Ben Boogz: I'm currently working on another instrumental album. 2 Hungry Bros. has a project with P.SO The Earthtone King called American Anime, which is almost done. Also, planning on working on some more tapes. Just staying busy! So, stay tuned. Please, check out my Bandcamp and Follow me (@chefboogz2hb, @2hungrybros & @hungerdivision) on Instagram and Twitter. Yo, Matt: Thank you so much for this! Big-ups, The Witzard!!! Thanks again! Shout-outs to Deep, LiKWUiD, P.SO, Jesus Himself, Serringe, and Joe from The Other Guys! PEACE!!!

Doc Reevez: I already have a couple projects done; one is a solo album I'm thinking about releasing on record. The other, is a follow-up to the HOTFM album with Henry Quester. I've also, been speaking with my brother, Epic Flux, about putting out a new Phoenix Renaissance album, which I am excited about!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Various Artists III: How Compilations Influenced a Generation - Punx Unite 1-3 Penned By: John E. Swan (Charged/SideOneDummy Records)

INTRODUCTION: Maybe, it's in the gray hairs that I've started finding in my thinning hair. Maybe, it's that dreaded third decade of life that seems to have been rearing it's ugly face around every corner. Maybe, it's a quarter life crisis, but something has been keeping me up at night. I sometimes, stay awake into the early hours of the morning spinning records and fumbling with CD jackets from high school, grasping hold of my youth for dear life. I search out elusive first presses of albums I'd somehow, lost to time, hoping that they'll somehow, tighten the thread leading from middle school to adulthood.

To be clear, I'm not fishing my torn band T-shirts or bondage pants from the depths of my closet, but as I make the transition into my 30's, shedding roommates and getting oil changes at regularly scheduled intervals, I can't help ruminating on where these albums came from and how they've shaped me. I can't help begging the question, "How did I get here?"

How I've come to be surrounded by this specific collection of music is largely, the consequence of efforts made by larger labels and their annual sampler CD's, but even today, I search out small Indie labels that pump out quality collections of exclusivities and excellent representations of a variety of music scenes.

Typically, priced at $4-5.00 and featuring, sometimes, up to 40 songs from just as many bands, compilations have always served as convenient and affordable ways to discover new and obscure bands. This is imperative to the formative years of a generation of listeners; compilations were the compass that one used to navigate the endless sea of Punk Rock and consequently, Hip-Hop, Hardcore, Indie, Reggae, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Many of these discs were used as shovels to tunnel into cozy nests of Punk records and artistic eccentricities.

It's this ability to influence and inform listeners that I'll be here every month to discuss. I'll be stopping The Witzard by to shed light on those discount albums in the so often overlooked "Various Artists" bins of the world, along with their influences within their communities, within their genres, and within the chronology of listener interests all across the globe, here in, Various Artists: How Compilations Influenced a Generation.

VARIOUS ARTISTS III: Imagine a choir of machine guns as "tenors" with chainsaws as "altos." Picture shotguns and car wrecks acting as "percussion." Now, imagine that you've spent your adolescence hearing Pop singles and boy bands delivering feathers and snowflakes to kids who are thirsty for blood.

Some things you don't know you've needed, until they've found you. In the excitement of the Pop-Punk and Fourth Wave Emo explosion of the early 2000's, it's forgivable to have missed the boat on The American Street Punk movement that took place in the middle part of that decade. So much of what listeners heard during that time was a painting of a wistful and care-free music scene that, in retrospect, seems comparatively tame, next to its more abrasive counterparts.

While the initial genesis of Street Punk is found in early 1980's England, the sub-genre didn't seem to gain much recognition in America, until the mid-late 90's, with bands such as Defiance and The Casualties embarking on grueling tour schedules, driving problematic cargo vans, and playing across the continent to small, but dedicated, groups of fans.

It was this latter band and the efforts of Charged Records (Jake Kolatis of The Casualties) and Long Island-based Punkcore Records, who eventually popularized the genre in a way that made it accessible for suburban youth, helping to concoct a perfect storm that put bands like Lower Class Brats and Cheap Sex in the position to tour internationally.

When looking to the humble beginnings of Charged Records, it's easy to overlook the involvement of Punkcore. However, in many instances, the two labels rosters were interchangeable, Punkcore having gone as far as offering up many of its most promising bands to Charged Records' first release, Punx Unite 1 (1998) a startling tour de force and introduction to the New Jersey-based label. The young label released two more 7-inch records with The Oi! Scouts and Endless Struggle, before re-connecting with Punk Core to release The Casualties' sophomore full-length, Underground Army, an impressive first year for a burgeoning band, cementing a relationship with Punkcore Records that was at once beneficial for both The Casualties and Charged Records.

With the label being run by a band out of New York and taking its roots in New Jersey, it comes as no surprise that Vol. 1 is a nearly flawless representation of the East Coast Underground scene of its time. Over half of its roster hails from New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia alone. For what it's worth, Charged allowed their ambitions to wander as far West as Texas, Montana, and California, but for all that the label owed to England for its overall aesthetic, this disc remains landlocked.

If Vol. 1 evokes a sense of East Coast claustrophobia, then, Punx Unite 2 (2000) is representative of the restlessness felt by Charged Records and, by extension, the Street Punk community, in general. As evidenced by its sub-title, "International Chaos," this second installment is a manifestation of the wanderlust felt by Charged and so many of the bands and young people that it represented. Punx Unite 2 is a cornucopia of international acts, putting flags in the soil of countries like Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Sweden, and Belgium, finally validating the sub-genre and authenticating the label's reputation in non-English speaking countries.

While Charged Records had its sights set on illuminating these marginalized acts, Street Punk luminaries, The Casualties, were honing their craft and tightening their sound. The band were preparing for appearances on the Vans Warped Tour, as well as their 2001 SideOneDummy debut, Die Hards. Meanwhile, contemporaries such as The Unseen and The Virus weren't far behind, bringing cohesive melodies and sophistication to a style of music almost exclusively reserved for less ambitious artists.

It is inevitably, this determination that resulted in the shift in tonality that eventually propelled these acts to success, in the first place. It's this humorless approach to artistic progress that landed their albums in outlet malls, making their music accessible to suburban youth for the first time. Consequently, it's this same progress and propulsion that "took the wind out of the sails" of the sub-genre as a whole.

Presumably in the interest of cornering all conceivable iterations of the Punk Rock cannon, California DIY giants, SideOneDummy joined forces with Charged Records five years after International Chaos for the third and final installment in the franchise, Punx Unite - Leaders of Today (2005.)

With SideOneDummy's influence came Poppier hooks from bands like The Briggs, The Forgotten, and The Street Brats, rounding the conceptual edges of a more abrasive franchise. At the end of the day, the result is a comprehensive trilogy, offering a tracklist that delves deep into the Street Punk cannon to deliver many bands neither heard before, nor since the compilation began its run.

It's this third installment of Punx Unite that seems to speak so holistically to fans, a single shot in the night that condenses and illuminates an entire movement. With a fully-formed iteration of A Global Threat, fresh blood in Monster Squad, and The Casualties in their prime, it serves as a statement to the rest of the American Alternative music scene.

We've evolved, and so has our idea of art. However, there is a sense of familiarity in hearing Volumes 1-2 for the first time today. There are the memories of washing glue from our hair and 40 oz bottles of malt liquor in parking lots in the middle of December. There are ill-fitting leather jackets that smell of bonfires and cars packed so tight that kids have to lay down in the trunk. There is a continuity of education that's been put on hold for over a decade here. Hearing Punx Unite 1-2 now 20 years after their initial releases, I can nearly feel my fingertips pricked bloody from needles, after sewing canvas patches onto thin torn hoodies and women's jeans, whose seams are bound by dental floss.

Even now, there are times where a great sense of sadness swells in my heart at the realization that I'll never know any of this for the first time again. With the stereo at the right volume and the breath of Autumn on my neck, the wind escapes my lungs and I can remember everything in its excitement and novelty. I can taste my first Mickey's "hand grenade." My fingers smell of USA Gold cigarettes. My coffee tastes different. Weaker, but new.

There's a flash of clarity and remembrance so strong that I'm 15-years-old again. Then, I'm graying at the temples; my back hurts; my eyes are painted like a raccoon's, run black and blue with broken blood vessels and lack of sleep. You consider the emotions and memories that can be evoked from a genre collectively, but there is a sense of rose tint and age that puts distance between these feelings and our ability to experience or re-live them with any authenticity.

Short of failing memories, many of these bands only exist on compilations, and in many cases, they no longer exist at all. So much of what we experienced as teenagers, what these compilations and bands and record labels helped to create, exists only on the other side of a glass of recollection. It's sealed off, protected from itself, and protected from a legion of fans that can be greedy with nostalgia.

Somewhere, there is an army in middle age, the word "Oi!" painted between the shoulder blades of their leather jackets. They're patiently awaiting debut LP's from bands that were long ago doomed to disappear into the ether of flawed recollections and dusty compact discs.

John E. Swan (@midwest_stress) is a novelist and short story writer, as well as freelance editor and journalist. His first novel, Any Way to Elsewhere, takes its name from a compilation cassette that he curated during his time with Berserk Records. When he's not writing, he can be found making music under the moniker "t h e m e s" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he lives with his girlfriend and their dog, Diesel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Richmond, Virginia 5-piece Instrumental Band Butcher Brown Let Loose AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela - Digital EP (Jellowstone Studios)

DJ Harrison is a Richmond, Virginia-based producer and multi-instrumentalist AKA Devonne Harris, who's now signed to Stones Throw Records. Last year, Stones Throw quietly released Harrison's self-produced debut, HazyMoods, which was recorded directly to tape in his living room/home studio. Not unlike his fellow Virginians Pharrell, Chad Hugo, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Clipse, DJ Harrison often blurs the line between Hip-Hop, R&B, Funk, Soul, and Rock "N" Roll. In a similar vein to Pharrell & Chad Hugo's The Neptunes/N*E*R*D, Harris also, moonlights as one-fifth of his own Virginia-based genre-eschewing band, Butcher Brown. Its 5-piece core line-up consists of guitarist Morgan Burrs, drummer Corey Fonville, bassist Andrew Randazzo, sax & trumpet player Marcus Tenney, and of course, DJ Harrison contributing keys, production, engineering, etc. According to Stones Throw, DJ Harrison "lives and works in Jellowstone, a house-turned recording compound occupied by his bandmates in Butcher Brown, a "Garage Punk Jazz Funk" group." For their latest collaborative effort, AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela, the proper follow-up to 2017's Live at Vagabond, Butcher Brown share four originals recorded in a style reminiscent of Fela Kuti and his various world-renown ensembles: The Highlife Rakers, His Koola Lobitos, Africa '70/Afrika '70, Egypt '80, and Nigeria '70.

Butcher Brown are assisted by guest players Brevan Hampden on percussion, Reginald Chapman on bass trombone, David Hood on baritone saxophone, and Kevin Simpson on tenor saxophone throughout AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela. "February 2017: I had a vision to pay tribute to Fela. I've written a couple of tunes in that style before this, but never did a full-on session with rhythm section and horns," DJ Harrison explained to The Witzard, via email. Harrison attests AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela is 100% "ALL LIVE" with a few minor "percussion over-dubs here and there, but everything else was live." DJ Harrison says "all 4 horns were recorded in my bedroom into a matched pair of tube stereo mics—I actually, had to put my bed vertically against the wall! I also, forgot all my charts that day, so I verbally communicated everyone's part to them, via the piano." In addition to evoking Fela Kuti Et Al. I would have to, personally, proclaim AfroKuti is, also, reminiscent of Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters' 1973 album, Head Hunters, as well. Butcher Brown's latest, AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela is currently available to stream or download on the band's Bandcamp page. Although, I'm sure we'll be hearing more from DJ Harrison & Butcher Brown before too long!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Melinda Camille, John Robinson & Pat Van Dyke Re-emerge As Kiss The Sky with "Sugar Pie" B/W "Glory" 7-inch (ILL ADRENALINE RECORDS)

It's been quite the busy year (so far) for Jersey City-based drummer, producer, composer, band leader, and multi-instrumentalist Pat Van Dyke; just this past May, PVD launched his own imprint, Stereo Vision Recordings, with an aptly-titled release called Stereo Vision Music Library, Vol. 1, which was soon followed by a proper full-length, Hello, Summer, before the end of June. Since The Witzard first covered 2016's PVD Breaks, Vol. 1 & RE: Crates 001—as well as Animal Ventura's PVD-produced Forrest St. EP—Van Dyke has released a number of collections, including: Pat Van Dyke / DJ Spinna Limited Edition 7" Vinyl, PVD Breaks, Vol. II, Let The Horns Blow - Remixes, PVD Breaks, Vol. II 12" 45RPM Vinyl, and lastly, PVD Breaks, Vol 3​.​88. Now, Pat Van Dyke has returned with a newly-minted Jazz/Hip-Hop trio dubbed Kiss The Sky with vocalist Melinda Camille and veteran emcee John Robinson. Although, Kiss The Sky has been a loosely-functioning collective since about 2012, when PVD, Camille & Robinson first collaborated on "Kiss The Sky," a B-side to "Miles & Trance" from John Robinson & PVD's Modern Vintage. John Robinson & PVD previously collaborated on the aforementioned 2014 Brick/Cotter Records LP, as well as 2009's All The Way Live and "Full Circle" Remix & Modern Vintage (Instrumentals) both released throughout 2014.

Pat Van Dyke & Melinda Camille, on the other hand, had previously worked together, without Robinson, on a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "It's Alright," as well as RE: Crates 001 featuring charismatic covers of Bob James' "Nautilus" and The Bee Gees' "Love You Inside & Out." Kiss The Sky's "Sugar Pie" B/W "Glory" 7-inch was, actually, released back in March 2018 on German-based label, ILL ADRENALINE RECORDS, and was distributed through Fat Beats Records and HHV Records. However, now, nearly 5 months later, Pat Van Dyke himself has attained 10 (with 6 remaining) (SOLD OUT!) standard black "Sugar Pie" 7-inches made available today, Monday, August 27th, on his personal Bandcamp page. "Recorded in Jersey City off-and-on over the course of the past few years, these two tracks introduce the world to what's to come from Kiss The Sky. Funky organic production, intelligent word-play, and soulful song-writing define the group's sound," reads a fitting description posted to Bandcamp. Pat Van Dyke's solo works, as well as past collaborations with both Melinda Camille & John Robinson, are currently available from PVD's personal Bandcamp page. Follow Stereo Vision Recordings on Bandcamp, Instagram (@stereovisionrecordings,) and Twitter (@StereoVisionRec) for regular updates on Pat Van Dyke and his assorted musical endeavors.

Baltimore Beat-maker & Producer URBN SHMN Lets Loose DatPiff & Bandcamp-exclusive Lor Shaman Mixtape (781705 Records DK)

URBN SHMN (pronounced "Urban Shaman") AKA KendalL Ca$h is a Baltimore-based producer/beat-maker originally hailing from DMV—otherwise known as District (DC)/Maryland/Virginia—who was formerly a B-more area DJ. I actually, first heard about URBN SHMN earlier this morning, after long-time The Witzard affiliate and collaborator John "Jumbled" Bachman FWD'ed me an email from The Urban Shaman himself; fittingly titled "Urbn Shmn is taking lofi to Datpiff," it contained URBN SHMN's latest mixtape, Lor Shaman. It's been widely referred to as a "summer '18 mixtape" by URBN SHMN himself and contains remixes of chart-topping hits by Childish Gambino, Desiigner, Drake, Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, Migos, Rihanna, and more. While showcased on a recent episode of Baltimore FLIPS. URBN SHMN readily shared his sources of inspiration and influence, which includes Flying Lotus, Madlib, J Dilla, and Teebs and these artists' sonic benchmarks can definitely be heard throughout Lor Shaman. Honestly, in my humble opinion, URBN SHMN's Lor Shaman also, has a strong early 2000's Ambient/Hip-Hop influence, akin to Girl Talk's sample-laden Night Ripper (2006) and Clams Casino's Instrumentals (2011) as well as Lil B, Bon Iver, and Three 6 Mafia. "Keeping to The Internet mixtape roots," URBN SHMN's Lor Shaman is currently available exclusively on DatPiff, as well as The Urban Shaman's own Bandcamp page. It's standard version contains 15 Experimental Hip-Hop tracks, although, those who purchase or download on Bandcamp, will receive an additional 16th Bonus Track, as remixed by Butch Dawson.

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Kingdom's Nosaj Re-emerges with "NEW KINGDOM/ORIGINAL CONCEPT" & "RUN-DMC/BAD BRAINS" Covers (Dub Ditch Picnic)

Jason Furlow is a Brooklyn-based emcee, producer, and musician also known as Nature Boy Jim Kelly and Nosaj The Great. Although, Furlow is likely, best known as Nosaj, 1/3 of Psychedelic Hip-Hop/Rap-Rock group, New Kingdom. I, actually, only very recently learned about Nosaj & New Kingdom after publishing UK beat-maker/producer LongDistanceDan's Beat-maker Bedrock column, which highlighted their 1993 debut, Heavy Load. Since New Kingdom's 1996 disbandment, Jason Furlow has worked with everyone from Tricky to The Freak Brothers, David Byrne (Talking Heads) to Morcheeba, Lyricist Lounge to Bill Laswell/Material, Buckethead to CX KiDTRONiK, and more. Furlow released a limited edition 2-track cassingle last year under his government name called "Last Man Standing" B/W "Modern Man" on Canadian cassette/CD imprint Dub Ditch Picnic, which is still currently available to stream or download on the label's Bandcamp. In recent years, Nosaj has re-emerged on Instagram as @nosajfromnewkingdom, regularly releasing video clips of his covers, remixes, de/re-constructions, and original compositions.

Earlier this week, Jason Furlow launched his own Soundcloud page under the guise of NOSAJ (NEW KINGDOM). It appears as though Furlow's newly-launched Soundcloud page will serve as a vessel to host his various audio/visual experiments in Psychedelic Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, Noise-Rap, de/re-constructions, and other assorted sub-genres of Hip-Hop. For his first his proper Soundcloud releases, Nosaj uploaded two brief, yet extremely unique blends/remix tracks dubbed "NEWKINGDOM/ORIGINAL CONCEPT" and "RUN-DMC/BAD BRAINS (Afro-Punk Weekend.)" "I make the music I wanna hear, ie: raw/brash/Electric-type sh*t," Jason Furlow recently wrote to The Witzard within an email; I would have to strongly agree, as Nosaj's first two Soundcloud uploads definitely fit within that archetype! "NEWKINGDOM/ORIGINAL CONCEPT" is a re-recorded version of the title track from New Kingdom's 1996 album, Paradise Don't Come Cheap, over the instrumental from Original Concept's 1986 Def Jam 12-inch single, "Knowledge Me."

"RUN-DMC/BAD BRAINS" is, just as it sounds, a cover of Run-D.M.C.'s "Sucker M.C.'s" from their 1984 self-titled debut over the frenzied instrumental from Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum" from their self-titled 1982 debut AKA Attitude: The ROIR Sessions, as well as long-shelved 1979/96 album, Black Dots. Nosaj (@nosajfromnewkingdom) Replied to Instagram commenter @horus0 saying, "Recording the "RUN-DMC/BAD BRAINS" [track] was like attempting to jump on a freight train moving at light-speed... it was a good time." Jason Furlow is currently busy recording/writing his own material, as well as gaggle of collaborations and top-secret features. "I have a host of features on the rise; some are, literally, on the hush (literally!) Others, are with Kid Acne & The Mongrels from England and TheDeadCanRap (Mike Ladd & Remi Rough)" Furlow recently explained to The Witzard. "I'm also, working on a major super-group with some serious musicians from The West Coast called El Stew" featuring Extrakd on bass/production, Marc "Mirv" Haggard on guitar/vox, Bryan "Brain" Mantia (Primus) on drums/production, DJ Eddie Def on turntables/production, DJ QBert's world-class scratching, and Jenna Mammina providing vox. Nosaj's currently busy finishing up his long-rumored forthcoming solo project, Sounds Like Acid, expected to be released this Fall/Winter.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"SERVED WELL SINCE 2017:" Introducing... WAXNERDS: A UK-based Hip-Hop Imprint & 26-member Collective (Label Spotlight)

Waxnerds is a 26-member UK-based record label and Hip-Hop collective. It consists of members DJ Mark-One AKA Mark-Oner AKA Mark-Onerism (@markonerism_waxnerd_no.1) Matt Love, Jamez Gant, Danny Bounce, Nic_Good_Life, DJ Dan Ball, Fatwax45, Slick_DWG, Tommy T, DJ Sam-B, DJ Benny-Ben, Matt_P8S, Kev Dinked, Pooky_DJ, Mojaxx-DJ City, DJ Flipout, DJ Deebow, MarkJames-Brazil, Brett-JayB, Funkymunky66, Vinyl-Trooper, Sie-Vulture, Jeyone, Real-One, Shoesy, and DJ Samo. First formed by Mark-One(r) in 2014 as an Instagram Chat Group, Waxnerds quickly morphed into a full-fledged label and functioning collective. "Moving forward, the combined enthusiasm of Mark-One, Matt Love & Jamez Gant got the label up and running..." Waxnerds' Bandcamp page charismatically explains. Mark-One tells The Witzard that over time, each of Waxnerds' 26 crew members will have an opportunity to release their own 7-inch/digital single on the ever-evolving imprint. Since 2017, Waxnerds has released 10 7-inches: limited runs of 30-80 lathe-cut 45's for #WAXNERDS001-004, a double-pack re-press of 001/002, and properly-pressed runs of 500 for #WAXNERDS005, 003.5, 006 001.5/004.5, and 007.

Just yesterday, I received a package from "across the pond" from DJ Mark-One containing 3 Promo-only 7-inches: Pooky's "Flippin' The Disco" B/W "Tux Redux" (WN003.5,) Good Life & Pooky's "Faith Like This" B/W "Just Buggin' Out" (WN006,) and The Realmatics & DJ Mark-One's "Made You Look" B/W "I Know You Got Soul (In The Garden of Eden" AKA WAXNERDS 1.5/4.5. The latter, being a re-press of two of Waxnerds' most popular 45's thus far, The Realmatics' remix of Nasty Nas' "Made You Look" from #WAXNERDS004 on Side A and a remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul" from Mark-One Edits Vol. 1 on Side B. The Realmatics, of course, are Steve Lavers on guitar/keys, Waxnerds' own Danny Bounce on bass, Nicol on percussion, and Dev on drums; DJ Mark-One's Side appears to not only be a remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul" from Paid In Full, but also, a seamless blend with Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" AKA "In The Garden of Eden." #WAXNERDS007 will ship out on or around Monday, October 1st and is currently available for pre-order in 7-inch "Singles" and "Doubles" packs, as well as digitally. It will feature Tommy T's "Watch The DJ"—a remix of Zhané's "Hey Mr. D.J."—on Side A backed by "Let's Have Some Funk" and BONUS "Funky Scratch Samples" on Side B.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sunny & The Sunliners' Key-Loc Singles "Get Down" & "Cross My Heart" Re-issued for The First Time In 50 Years (Big Crown Records)

Sunny & The Sunliners were a San Antonio-based Chicano Soul band fronted by Sunny Ozuna that were originally active from about 1964-81 or 1988. Sunny & The Sunliners consisted of members Jimmy Edward, Amos Johnson, Jr. Johnny Zaragosa, and of course, namesake Sunny Ozuna, as well as various members through the years. The Sunliners released countless albums and singles on labels and imprints such as Tear Drop, Crazy Cajun, Freddie Records, Scorpio Productions, Inc. Okeh Records, Three M Records, Black-Whale Records, London Records, Darla, and Ozuna & Zaragosa's own imprint, Key-Loc. Sunny & The Sunliners' plethora of Funk-oozing material touches on styles ranging from Tejano to Rock "N" Roll, Soul/Funk to Latin-American, Jazz to Pop, etc. over their nearly 20-year career. However, almost 30 years after their disbandment, Sunny & The Sunliners garnered a bit of a career resurgence, as recently as 2017, when Leon Michels (El Michels Affair) & Danny Akalepse's newly-minted Big Crown Records released a 17-track CD/LP compilation called Mr. Brown Eyed Soul. It was soon followed by The Missing Link and Smile Now... Cry Later album re-issues through 2017, as well as Big Crown's 2018 re-issue of The Sunliners' 1968 Key-Loc album, Little Brown Eyed Soul.

Now, Big Crown Records have decided to properly re-issue two tracks from their own past re-issues: "Get Down" from from Mr. Brown Eyed Soul and Little Brown Eyed Soul opener "Cross My Heart." Sunny & The Sunliners' "Get Down" was, according to Discogs, originally released as the B-side to "We Can Make It Together (Do You Want Me)" on an extremely sought-after Key-Loc DJ copy/promo 7-inch at an unknown date. Although, I'm guessing, it had to be released at some point after 1971, when the original version of "Get Down" was released on War's All Day Music album on United Artists/Island Records. Side B's "Cross My Heart" was first released on Sunny & The Sunliners' aforementioned 1968 album, Little Brown Eyed Soul and was penned and released by Billy Stewart just one year prior on a Chess Records 7-inch single. "A sweet Soul classic recently made popular again, via Jay Electronica's Just Blaze-produced underground hit, "Exhibit C," which sampled the Stewart version," Rap & Soul Promo explains within a recent press release. Sunny & The Sunliners' freshly-pressed "Get Down" B/W "Cross My Heart" 7-inch is now available to purchase, via Big Crown Records.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up Feat. Bo Jankans & DJ Ragz, Bully Preston, Creign, Jaubi, Mugwampers & Zilla Rocca (August 2018 Edition)

Over the course of the past month or so, there have been a plethora of solid Hip-Hop EP's released online; a quick, concise 30-minutes or less format that's seemingly, replaced the mixtape/"street album" format of years passed to become your favorite underground rapper/producer's go-to promotional tool. Here, for this second edition of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up, we'll be profiling five EP's released throughout August 2018, as well as one released at the end of July that was honestly, way too dope to not include! Featured below, in no particular order, are EP's from the likes of Bo Jankans & DJ Ragz, Bully Preston (Jumbled & dwell,) Creign AKA Mantis The Miasma, Jaubi, Mugwampers ('i's & SaIGO,) and Zilla Rocca. Along with a brief write-up on each release, you'll find a select track from each EP, as well purchase links to buy or stream online. If this one goes well, we'll plan to publish an edition of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up each month or so. ARTISTS: feel free to submit your current or upcoming EP's to for consideration within The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up. Also, you may notice, above is The Witzard's new and improved logo, as designed by graphic designer John Wong! Shout-out to Steve "Sulu" Mallorca of Sulu & Excelsior for hooking us up!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Founder & Senior Writer/Editor

I. Bo Jankans & DJ Ragz - ORANGE * (self-released)

ORANGE is the first installment in a series of planned color-themed EP's from Virginia-based turntablist/producer Brian "DJ Ragz" Ragonese. On ORANGE, DJ Ragz is joined by fellow Virginian, emcee Bo Jankans, much his last food-themed release, Pasta & Wings with Unown on Common Good Records. Bo Jankans & DJ Ragz explain that "ORANGE is the color of positivity and creativity. We all need a little ORANGE in our lives." ORANGE EP has a very old school Boom-Bap/Golden Age Hip-Hop feel and it's very fun-loving and DJ-centric. It's actually, DJ Ragz's first fully self-produced project, beats-wise. All ORANGE beats and cuts by DJ Ragz, vocals/lyrics by Bo Jankans, features from Trekot, Bones of Sleepy Hollows Studios & Unown. All vocals recorded at Sleepy Hollow Studios. Mixed, Mastered & ORANGE concept brought to you by Unown with ORANGE artwork by Jeremy Gann. It appears as though DJ Ragz is currently working on additional food and color-themed releases, as well as collaborative, 7-inch "scratch," and battle-themed records.

II. Bully Preston - Fly Like a Dove Cameron (self-released)

It appears as though Bully Preston's THE INSULT follow-up, Fly Like a Dove Cameron (Summer Singles)' title is a reference to both Steve Miller Band's 1976 smash-hit "Fly Like An Eagle," as well as Liv and Maddie & Descendants 1-3 actress Dove Cameron. Not unlike THE INSULT, Fly Like a Dove Cameron features Jumbled on the beats and dwell on the rhymes. dwell says Fly Like a Dove Cameron (Summer Singles) was originally supposed to be a concise 2-track EP, although, it "just didn't feel "Bully" enough." dwell explains: "I went through some of the older beats Jumbled had sent me and found the one for the last song on the single/EP. It didn't make me wanna rap, but it did get me crooning some stupid fun stuff, which is about as "Bully" as it gets, anyhow." Actually, the entirety of Bully Preston's Fly Like a Dove Cameron (Summer Singles) EP was recorded by dwell between Tuesday and Thursday evenings, before being released to the masses late Thursday/Friday morning. dwell, then, recorded, mixed, and designed three separate covers for each single, created in a just a few short hours, one evening after work, prior to his family vacation.

III. Creign - Forged In Flame (NeSCIENCE)

Mantis The Miasma is a 19-year-old producer, lyricist, and emcee hailing from Los Angeles, who's been championed by Short Fuze, Lt Headtrip, and Elmattic (@thisiselmattic.) Since bursting onto the scene in 2016, Mantis (@Mantis_CA) has released his appropriately-titled MIASMA EP, a number of digital singles, and his 2018 debut full-length, Worth of My Birth. Many of you may recognize his work around these parts, as Mantis The Miasma was the only remixer to submit a 100% completed remix for The Witzard's Cowboys & Frenchmen "COMPANION PLAN" Remix Challenge earlier this year. Now, Mantis The Miasma has returned, although, it's not exactly how you might expect... "allow me to re-introduce myself; my name is Creign (oh) C-to-The-R-E-I-G-N." Mantis simply explains it like this: "as Creign on Forged In Flame, we see a different side of the artist behind Mantis The Miasma, still vulnerable and hurt, but less aggressive and more somber." Essentially, it's a more experimental R&B/Soul-leaning, sing-songy version of Mantis The Miasma, much like Kanye on 808's & Heartbreak or Drew Scott as Giddeon Gallows on CRITTER.

IV. Jaubi - "Lahore State of Mind" (Astigmatic Records)

Jaubi (جو بھی) are an instrumental band hailing from Lahore, Pakistan, whose name loosely translates to "whatever;" members Zohaib "Zebi" Hassan Khan, Kashif Ali Dhani, Qammar "Vicky" Abbas & Ali Riaz Baqar often "[create] whatever sounds good and whatever feels good." Jaubi first gained wide-spread critically-acclaim and notoriety with their 2016 cover of "Time: The Donut of The Heart" from J Dilla's magnum opus, Donuts, which received praise from Madlib, Stones Throw, and even The James Dewitt Yancey Foundation. For more on Jaubi's The Deconstructed Ego EP-era, ch-check out The Witzard's comprehensive 2016 interview with guitarist, producer, and beat-maker Ali Riaz Baqar AKA Ila Zair... while Jaubi's long-rumored second EP—tentatively titled The Emancipation of a Statistic—has still yet to materialize, the Pakistani quintet has re-emerged with "Lahore Sate of Mind." Yes, Hip-Hop head: that's an instrumental cover/re-creation of Nas' 1994 DJ Premier-produced Illmatic single, "N.Y. State of Mind." "Lahore State of Mind" is, in my humble opinion, an absolutely breath-taking rendition of Nas & Premier's beloved classic. It's now available on 7-inch vinyl with a remix on Side B provided by London-based producer, Al Dobson, Jr.

V. Mugwampers - 717: Part II (self-released)

Mugwampers' 717 (Part II) is the second installment in a planned 3-part EP series poised to explore different Hip-Hop-adjacent genres and sub-genres. Scotsmen SaIGO & 'i's are currently finishing up a gaggle of releases both solo, collaborative, and with a handful of like-minded affiliates and are still honing in on their own unique sound. When compared against its slightly more Hip-Hop-leaning predecessor, 717 (Part II) is a little less rooted in Hip-Hop and was more so influenced by skull-bashing Heavy Metal/Death Metal. "Influence to me, was just what was going on around me, things I seen outside [and] wanted to capture the same grit with the instrumentals and also, when SaIGO played "God Hates Us All" by Slayer that hit a spark in my head. I'd say, the difference is, this one is more in-your-face and it just doesn't give a f**k what you have to say, gritty," Mugwampers producer and beat-maker 'i's charismatically explained. "I'm a Metalhead! I love Slayer, Anthrax, etc. Before this, I was making music in a Death Metal group haha; so, for this part of 717, I just thought that some of my true roots should shine through," SaIGO continued. For those interested in learning more about Mugwampers unique brand of Scottish Hip-Hop, ch-check out The Witzard's recent interview with founding members, SaIGO & 'i's.

VI. Zilla Rocca - Hard Boiled EP (Three Dollar Pistol Music)

Last, but not least for this installment of The Witzard's Rap EP Wrap-up is Zilla Rocca's Hard Boiled EP. Zilla Rocca, following Career Crooks' Good Luck with That & Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing, has returned with his first proper long-form solo release, 2016's Anything I Touch I Bruise Vol. 2: The Superior Foes of Zilla Rocca; coincidentally, the first of Zilla's projects covered here at The Witzard! Hard Boiled is a collection of seven new and previously released tracks, produced by The Expert, Messiah Musik, and Newstalgia, as well as Zilla Rocca himself, which Zilla fittingly describes as all possessing a common "snubnose pressed to the back feel to them." Hard Boiled collectively harkens back to Zilla Rocca's now-infamous Noir-Hop string of releases—No Vacation for Murder, Party with Villains EP & The Slow Twilight—brimming with True Crime-evocative rhymes and one sharp-tongued guest feature from Henry Canyons, as well as an abridged Iron & Wine cover. Hard Boiled EP serves as a bit of a precursor, as well as the polar opposite, to Zilla Rocca's forthcoming solo album, Future Former Rapper, scheduled to drop on POW Recordings sometime this Fall.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Philly's Own Beat-twisting Producer & Multi-instrumentalist Rolled Gold Assembles Beat-maker Bedrock #23 (Rolled Gold Productions)

"Rolled Gold is a soulful Hip-Hop producer from Philadelphia, who has a versatile, life-long musical resume, ranging from Jazz to Punk Rock bands, Trap beats to live Neo-Soul groups, and more. His style has influence from Hip-Hop producers, such as J Dilla, RZA, and MF DOOM, as well as the timeless catalogs of Motown, Stax & [Philadelphia International Records]. While he has been sampling for most of his production, so far, this past year has been spent composing and recording friends and family to use as sample material. His next releases will be instrumental/remix EP's and a compilation album, all constructed from these original samples and compositions... These albums, in no specific order, are the first that come to his mind in his influence and evolution as a musician over the years."

A. Madlib - Beat Konducta: Movie Scenes, Vol. 1-2 (2006)

"This is the first album I heard, at age 13, that really made me think of music—specifically, non-soundtrack music—as illustrations of a hypothetical "movie scene." Literally due to the title, I listened with that in mind and went on a soulful, meditative journey through space and time. After that, I gradually began visualizing almost all pieces of music and imagining the accompanying "movie scene." It should be noted that I have a form of synesthesia, which allows me to see music in color schemes that make the illustrations come to life and evoke more emotion."

B. "Chef" Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995)

"Much like Madlib's Beat Konducta: Movie Scenes, Vol. 1-2, Raekwon's 1995 debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (known by many as "The Purple Tape") is the perfect example of a cinematic experience, which I first heard in its entirety at age 15. I describe it as "listening to a movie" and of course, this specific movie is a Black Mafioso saga based in New York City, most specifically, Staten Island. Many people credit Raekwon with pioneering "Mafioso Rap" and due to the interludes, whether recorded by Wu-Tang Clan themselves or sampled from various Mafia & Kung-Fu films, the album has a fluent and exciting storyline. Of course, RZA's dark, soulful production, largely sampled from lesser-known Stax records, ties it together with an elegant, yet dusty and grimy canvas."

C. Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes (1968)

"This record, from 1968, is a masterpiece of Psychedelic Brazilian Classic Rock, although, calling it "Classic Rock" really doesn't do it justice. I heard it for the first time at age 16, I believe, and although, I had never heard anything like it at all, I compared it to The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour & Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967.) While it's equally as versatile, "far-out," and smoothly-flowing as those albums, it's also, beautifully bursting with indigenous Brazilian percussion and possibly even "further-out" Experimental techniques that are still, somehow, digestible as Pop songs. One of [the] many techniques I adopted from this album is the use of field recordings—birds chirping, glasses clinking, etc.—to give songs unique textures and to help paint the picture, like the aforementioned "movie scenes" I already grew to appreciate."

D. Curtis Mayfield - Curtis (1970)

"Curtis Mayfield's debut solo album of 1970, Curtis, is another album I first heard at age 16. I believe, Curtis did most of his own composing, arranging, and producing, at this point, which reflects, in my opinion, one of the best era's sonically of all time. Similarly to 21st Century composer Adrian Younge, I view the late 60's-early 70's as the time in which recording techniques and technology were becoming [as] complex, sophisticated, and funky as they'd ever been, yet not as clean, rigid, and electronic as the latter half of the 70's and onward. Don't get me wrong, I love all eras after that, as well, but there's something magical about that time that I could probably describe for hours, but I won't. Curtis' music, along with Motown's extensive discography, gave me an appreciation for bells, strings, harps, etc. that most of my generation lacks."

E. At this point, I'm thinking of too many other important records in my life, so I will give a super-brief Honorable Mentions List:

- Charles Mingus' Mingus Dynasty (1960) may be my favorite album, but that's a crazy thing to say. Regardless, the songs "Slop" and "Far Well, Mills Valley" are some of the most beautiful recordings I've ever heard.

- Gil Scott-Heron's Pieces of a Man (1970) was given to me by my mother, when I was 16 and along with helping me get through changes in my life, it still, to this day, influences my drumming and bass playing, stylistically.

- Madlib & MF DOOM's MADVILLAINY (2004) & J Dilla's Donuts (2006) were introduced to me at age 13 and you know, they changed my life!

"Newer records that have held my attention tremendously in the past few years include: Westside Gunn's FLYGOD, Noname's Telefone, Anderson .Paak's MALIBU, and Tierra Whack's Whack World. Maybe, I will go into further detail on these in the future, along with some Philly Soul & Jazz records, some Stevie Wonder (obviously,) and... yea, lem'me just stop here. Thanks for reading and I hope y'all enjoy some of the albums on my list!"

- Rolled Gold (@RolledGoldBeats)

Friday, August 17, 2018

3 Feet High & Rising: Inglewood-based Emcee LOW BLOW Readies Gospel, Funk & Soul-steeped First Book of Timothy (Common Good Records)

Since its 2017 inception, LA-based imprint Common Good Records has released a string of continually phenomenal records and tapes, including: Te'Amir Sweeney's Tiger Breaks 45 + drum kit, Drtysoap's Merry Chrithmith, Unown & DJ Ragz's Pasta & Wings cassette, and Jake Najor's D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS 45 + drum kit. Plus, label co-founder J.D. (@OlogistBBB) has been extremely hospitable and supportive of both myself and The Witzard; even mixing and sequencing Mitchell Kezin's festive Mitchell's 'SOUL SISTA' Holiday Mix for The Witzard extremely last-minute! Now, J.D. & Common Good Records have announced their next proper release: Low Blow's full-length debut, First Book of Timothy. "Soulful, West Coast Hip-Hop. A sound unique unto itself. A sound that recalls a classic era nostalgia. A sound steeped in the deep roots of Gospel, Funk, and Soul. Low Blow [@thereallowblow] builds on that tradition with his debut album, First Book of Timothy," reads an album description on Common Good's Bandcamp. First Book of Timothy has a sound evocative of, in my humble opinion, Sa-Ra Creative Partners AKA Sa-Ra, Janelle Monáe, Kendrick Lamar, and OutKast—due in part to its soulful G-Funk-inflected production/co-production work from both Allakoi "Mic Holden" Peete (@micholdenfresh) and Luke Ellington (@luke.ellington) throughout. Mic Holden has previously worked with the likes of Kamasi Washington, Blu, Shafiq Husayn, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, The Gaslamp Killer, Josef Leimberg, Fergie on Double Dutchess, Terrace Martin, and GB AKA Gifted & Blessed.

Luke Ellington, on the other hand, has had the opportunity to work alongside Anderson .Paak FKA Breezy LoveJoy, Jimetta Rose, Jonah Levine, Philip Ray, Tre Hickman, and Ernest Tibbs, as well as Mic Holden, Atwood-Ferguson, Washington, and Leimberg. Low Blow's First Book of Timothy features appearances throughout from many of Holden & Ellington's past collaborators and fellow LA-based artists, such as Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Uncle Chucc (1500 or Nothin') Jose Rios, Ernest Tibbs, LEAVING RECORDS' Jamire Williams, Jimetta Rose, Breezy LoveJoy, and Inglewood's own Damani Nkosi. Low Blow's First Book of Timothy is currently available for pre-order in a number of formats including: Test Press Vinyl, Test Press + Metallic Gold Vinyl, Metallic Gold Vinyl, Standard Black Vinyl, Black + Metallic Gold Vinyl, and of course, Digital Album. Ahead of First Book of Timothy's Friday, September 14th wide release, Common Good Records are now streaming 'teaser' singles "Outta Control / Gangsta Walk" and "Can't Wait." Ladies and gents, trust me, I've heard the entirety of Low Blow's 10-track First Book of Timothy and this album is phenomenal! IT'S NOT TO BE MISSED and is, hands down, one of the strongest albums of 2018 (so far!) Expect a comprehensive interview with Low Blow, Mic Holden & Luke Ellington coming soon to The Witzard...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

From The Depths of Bikini Bottom... DJ Cummerbund Reviews SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical (The Witzard Exclusive)

DJ Cummerbund is a mash-up artist and video remixer hailing from New York. He describes himself as the "Reigning World Mash-up Champion (2018-present,) Celebrity, Philanthropist & Dapper Man," as well as readily proclaiming he's "the greatest DJ on the entire planet!" The Witzard first encountered DJ Cummerbund back in Dec. 2016, after someone posted his phenomenal Foo Fighters/Rick James mash-up, "Freaktender," online. I soon reached out to the email address listed on Cummerbund's YouTube page and before long, was in contact with his "handler," J. Gary Gildersleeve at Gildersleeve Artist Management; although, over the past two years, I've had very little contact with DJ Cummerbund himself... until very recently. I noticed on Instagram—looking back, I believe, in real-time—that @djcummerbund had recently attended a showing of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical AKA The SpongeBob Musical at The Palace Theatre in New York.

Then, following a brief exchange of comments on one of DJ Cummerbund's SpongeBob pictures, I was soon instructed to "dm" him and asked Cummerbund if he might be interested in penning a review of The SpongeBob Musical for The Witzard. So, please, scroll down and enjoy DJ Cummerbund's... let's just say, very unique interpretation of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. If you're unfamiliar, I strongly suggest checking out Cummerbund's top-notch mash-up videos on his YouTube channel and if you feel so inclined, donate to his Patreon page. I'm told DJ Cummerbund is currently working on an EP's-worth of original material to tentatively be released within the second quarter of 2019, if not sooner. It seems as though Cummerbund's Uncle Peter Phoenix, however, has been "making egg salad sandwiches in [the] studio" and it's been holding up the recording process. I was personally asked by DJ Cummerbund to publicly "SHAME" his Uncle Peter. TWADDLE, BABY!!!

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

"Act I: meh...

Act II: much better!!!

In my humble opinion, seeing a 2-D cartoon acted out in original human form without any cheesy costumes: BRAVA!!! The whole show was family-friendly, with a few jokes sprinkled in for the older generation. I was sitting in the audience, hoping I wouldn't get recognized. Thankfully, I was only approached a few times with everyone else respecting my mother and her happiness. Anyway, I digress... the show was slow to start, but the actors grabbed fully onto their characters and hit a home run. It's a shame that it's closing... go see the show, if you get a chance. The DJ commands it!!! "

"POST-SCRIPT: The story [as] a whole, to me, represented a WWII storyline. SpongeBob was obviously, an Emperor Hirohito-type character. Which idolized the freedom and care-free state of Japan. He wanted so hard to make everyone happy that he forgets his own [happiness].

Sandy Cheeks: SpongeBob's loyal sidekick. Though, she is supposed to be independent, she's actually, very much dependent on the adoration and respect of The Sponge.

Squidward: This character represents The Irish community. Though, he comes through his facade with sarcasm, you can feel the sense of depression and longing for help. At the start, you can see the pain of The Irish, but by the end, you get the sense of American troops (AKA Mr. Krabs) coming to free his mind with Capitalism.

All I'm saying [is,] if you can't happen to catch The Broadway show, watch Garfield: The Movie (2004.) It's the same thing; just look through the playful characters."

- DJ Cummerbund (@DJ_Cummerbund)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ghostface Killah & Big Ghost Ltd Join Forces for The Lost Tapes & "Saigon Velour" (Embassy Mix) Feat. Snoop Dogg, E-40 & La The Darkman

Wu-Tang Clan emcee Ghostface Killah and Internet personality Big Ghost Ltd AKA Cocaine Biceps AKA The Illustrious Thor Molecules AKA The Infamous Galaxy Knuckles AKA Shampoo Bracelets The Panty-melter AKA The Mighty Hands of Zeus, believe it or not, have a long, strange history together. In his earliest aughts as a sh*t-talking writer/music critic around 2010-11, Big Ghost (then-Big Ghostface) was actually, widely believed to be Ghostface Killah; due in part to his 2011 Ayo The Top 10 Softest N****s In The Game! AKA GHOSTFACE KILLAH: TOP 10 SOFTEST RAPPERS IN THE GAME list. Ghostface Killah AKA Tony Starks AKA Ironman AKA Pretty Toney AKA Starky Love AKA The Wallabee Champ AKA Ghost Deini/Ghostdini AKA Sun God has continually released strong solo efforts and has been my personal favorite Wu-Tang swordsmen for the last 15+ years. Ghost was one of the first Wu-Tang/Killa Beez emcees to work with outside producers and in recent years, has worked with Apollo Brown, Adrian Younge, BADBADNOTGOOD, DOOM, J Dilla, Jake One, Madlib, Mark Ronson, Pete Rock, and Sean "Diddy" Combs. Big Ghost has since, become a reputable Hip-Hop producer in his own right and has released full-album projects with the likes of Westside Gunn & Conway (Hall N' Nash,) Vic Spencer, ANKHLEJOHN, Hus Kingpin, and CRIMEAPPLE—as well as singles with Raekwon, Masta Killa, Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah, Conway X Guilty Simpson, Vic Spencer & SONNYJIM, and Wale.

A'ight, now that everyone's caught up... yesterday afternoon, Ghostface Killah (@GhostfaceKillah) & Big Ghost (@BigGhostLtd) announced that they've mended fences and have effectively joined forces for a collaborative full-length album titled The Lost Tapes. Its title is seemingly, an allusion to Wu-Tang Clan's fabled 2015 double-album, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin; "In the first half of 2018, Wu-Tang Clan fans world-wide were hopeful that the previous sale of the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, would change hands from the currently incarcerated owner, Martin Shkreli, to Wu-Tang affiliate Matthew "M80" Markoff, who would release it freely to the public—to be appreciated by all," Mac Media Promo's press release details. Despite Markoff's $1 million offer, the sale of the coveted album, unfortunately, never came to fruition and for now, at least, M-Eighty has written off the notion of attaining Once Upon a Time In Shaolin. "Thinking "where do we go from here?" M-Eighty decided to link with Wu-Tang Clan's own Ghostface Killah to bring the world a brand new studio album alongside legendary underground producer phenomenon Big Ghost," Mac Media Promo continued. A phenomenal teaser single, entitled "Saigon Velour" (Embassy Mix) Feat. Snoop Dogg, E-40 & La The Darkman was released yesterday along with the album's announcement, as well as a nearly 6-minute mix dubbed "The Lost Tapes LP Sampler." The Lost Tapes is now available for pre-order from M80's Holy Toledo Productions, via Ghostface's own web-store, in two limited edition autographed packages. Daupe! Media will host super-limited edition vinyl, CD, and cassette packages, as well, and The Lost Tapes will be released digitally on Cleopatra/X-Ray Records Friday, October 5, 2018.

"The Lost Tapes also, features an all-star line-up including: Snoop Dogg, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Killah Priest, Sheek Louch, Ras Kass, Michael Rappaport, and more. Unlike any previously-released Ghostface Killah or Wu-Tang album, The Lost Tapes will be receiving the LIMITED EDITION physical format treatment, courtesy of M-Eighty's Holy Toledo Productions imprint and the UK's own Daupe! Media. Fans of Daupe! Media will soon be able to purchase the album in vinyl, CD, and cassette formats, while starting today, Holy Toledo Productions, via, will be offering pre-orders for the first 1,000 CD's all to be included with an autographed poster from Ghostface himself, a Bonus EP, and more! On 10/5/18, independent mainstay Cleopatra/X-Ray Records will be releasing The Lost Tapes on all digital platforms."

- Mac Media Promo (@macmediapromo)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Brooklyn's "noGENRE" Quintet Phony Ppl Return with Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop & R&B-inflected Single "Before You Get a Boyfriend" (300 Entertainment)

"The band we know as Phony Ppl is a mix of people, time, and sound that's been nurtured over generations in Brooklyn" currently consisting of members: Elbee Thrie on vocals, Elijah Rawk on lead guitar, Matt "Maffyuu" Byas on drums, Aja Grant on keyboards, and Bari Bass on, of course, bass guitar. Since forming in 2009—amidst self-releasing 3 albums and an EP on Phony PPL LLCPhony Ppl have had the unique opportunity to perform alongside Domo Genesis, Erykah Badu, Fetty Wap, Kali Uchis, Mac Miller, Odd Future, Princess Nokia, The Roots, Snake Hips, and more. Now, following a brief hiatus, Phony Ppl have returned with their first new material since Yesterday's Tomorrow (2015.) Last week, okayplayer premiered "Before You Get a Boyfriend," which effortlessly blends together Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop, and R&B-leaning sounds into a "noGENRE" musical mix the site deems "an ice-cold summer daydream." Phony Ppl's self-produced and Qmillion mixed "Before You Get a Boyfriend" was accompanied by an equally fun-loving music video, wherein frontman Elbee Thrie does his damnedest to "woo over" the cashier at a local corner bodega "Before [She Gets] a Boyfriend."

Phony Ppl recently compiled a 14-song Spotify playlist also called "Before You Get A Boyfriend" that consists of selections the band describes as, "sonGs we've been inspired by over the course of our journey creatinG this album. Some Old some New, all Good music;" Phony Ppl's playlist includes Bobby Hutcherson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Tortured Soul, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Nxworries, AOE, Caldera & Dianne Reeves, Madlib, D'Angelo, Tierra Whack, Peggy Gou, Blame Candy, Pleasure, and CASIOPEA. It appears as though Phony Ppl are currently working on their long-awaited follow-up to Yesterday's Tomorrow, as when GRUNGECAKE asked the group if fans should expect a new album before year's end, Phony Ppl responded: "Yes, sooner than you probably think! 😉" Phony Ppl's Facebook & Twitter pages (@PhonyPpl) as well as @ElijahRawk, @mrbaribass, @AjaGrantPurple, @MaffYuu & @ElbeeThrieBeats' personal pages have changed their Default pics to mosaic tile-like images very similar to "Before You Get a Boyfriend"'s single artwork. Phony Ppl's "Before You Get a Boyfriend" is now available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded streaming platforms, via 300 Entertainment.